At Towson High School, the heat and air conditioning must run at the same time to prevent mold. The water coming out of the taps is brown. With any substantial rainfall, the main level floods — with waters rising above the electrical panels.
On top of that, the high school is overcrowded now, and the numbers are predicted to get significantly worse in the coming years.
To address these issues, parents and local leaders have formed a steering committee to advocate for a new school building. The group, called New in ’22, is hoping to have a new high school by 2022.
“We support what the county is doing now by adding air conditioning and doing renovations” to other schools, said Jennifer Bolster, a parent whose two children graduated from Towson High, and head of the steering committee. “We’re saying, when you’re done there, Towson is next.”
Towson High was built in 1949, an addition was put on in 1965, and it was partially renovated in 1996 — although many say the renovation was not as successful as had been expected.
The county is already planning to renovate Dulaney High, Lansdowne High, Woodlawn High, and Patapsco High. The Towson group notes that renovations at Dulaney — which is several decades newer than Towson High — are running about $40 million. They say it makes more sense to start with a new building in Towson — estimated to be about $100 million — especially because it would be difficult to put another addition on the building.
Towson High is expected to be at 137 percent capacity in five years.
Baltimore County Public Schools will start planning its FY2019 budget this October, and approval of the budget will happen in 2018. The New in ’22 group wants to make sure they are on the radar of BCPS, the county, and the state as those plans move forward.
Councilman David Marks, who has been working with the steering committee, said it’s “a very ambitious goal, and right now we want to simply advance planning money as quickly as possible.”
On Sept. 26 at 7 PM, the group will hold a town hall meeting at the Towson library to discuss goals and strategies. (They hope to be done in time for everyone to watch the first Clinton-Trump debate, which airs at 9:00 that evening.)
“We don’t want to be divisive and sound angry, but we do want to have a lot of voices,” said Steve Prumo, a financial advisor, Towson High alum, and father of four kids — all of whom will attend Towson High.
Bolster, who owns a physical therapy practice, also said the group wants to take a cooperative approach with its advocacy, and added that it’s not just parents who should be concerned.
“If you care about the community, then you care about schools,” she said. “If the schools start to go downhill, then the community goes downhill.”